NCAA Concussion Lawsuits
Former student-athletes who played football and soccer at NCAA member schools filed class action lawsuits on behalf of themselves and current and former student-athletes against the NCAA. They claimed that the NCAA was negligent and had breached its duty to protect all current and former student-athletes by failing to adopt appropriate rules regarding concussions and/or manage the risks from concussions. The named plaintiffs sought medical monitoring for all current and former student-athletes, as well as changes to the NCAA’s return-to-play guidelines for student-athletes who had suffered concussions or concussion symptoms.
The NCAA denied and continues to deny all allegations of liability and wrongdoing. Nonetheless, the Parties to the Litigation have reached a preliminary Settlement.
The Settlement has already been preliminarily approved by the Court. Because the settlement of a class action determines the rights of all members of the proposed class, the Court must give final approval to the Settlement before the Settlement can take effect.
The Court has conditionally certified the Settlement Class for settlement purposes only, so that members of the Settlement Class can be given this notice and the opportunity to exclude themselves from the Settlement Class, voice their support or opposition to final approval of the Settlement, and explain how those who do not exclude themselves from the Settlement Class may obtain the relief offered by the Settlement. If the Settlement is not granted final approval by the Court or the Parties terminate it, the Settlement will be void and the Litigation will continue as if there had been no Settlement and no certification of the Settlement Class.
What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?
CTE can present with recent memory loss and other cognitive impairments similar to those experienced by people with Alzheimer’s disease. People with CTE can also have changes in behavior (e.g., impulsivity, rage, aggression, having a short fuse) and mood (e.g., depression, hopelessness, feeling suicidal). Less commonly there can be movement disorders such as parkinsonism (e.g., tremor, difficulty walking or speaking, stiffness). Some people with CTE may first have behavior or mood problems. Others may first have cognitive difficulties, with the changes in mood and behavior later. In some people, the symptoms of the disease progress to the point where there is difficulty in daily functioning, requiring assistance or being unable to live alone. In these cases, CTE may be clinically mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In other cases, CTE may be mistakenly diagnosed as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
Chronic and Debilitating Side Effects
Research has shown that athletes who get concussed may suffer from chronic and debilitating side effects including:
Symptoms of Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease
Behavior and mood problems that make it difficult to control impulsive behaviors
Withdrawal from previously enjoyable activities and events
Difficulty with balance
Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
The NCAA’s Responsibility to Players’ Safety
The NCAA and all its member institutions present themselves as a governing body that will look out for and advance the goals of student-athletes. The NCAA dictates rules and legislation to its member conferences and schools, and these protocols are supposed to be designed to protect athletes. Almost every aspect of the students’ lives is also controlled, from the times they can practice to their healthcare, even the meals they eat. Students and their parents entrust the NCAA with the health and well-being of young men and women, and the NCAA willingly assumes a duty to protect these athletes. Yet the NCAA remains frustratingly silent on concussions, sub-concussive hits and head injuries, some of the most vital issues of player safety.
For 2015-16, the most recent year for which audited numbers are available, NCAA revenue was a record-breaking $996 million, most of which came from the rights agreement with Turner/CBS Sports. The only money put towards a brain injury program similar to the NFL’s was a $400,000 donation to research brain trauma in 2013. That amount is less than half of the salary of a bowl game CEO.
The NFL has agreed to pay $765 million to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation, medical research for retired NFL players and their families, and litigation expenses. The NFL has set up protocols for concussions and suspected concussions while slashing practice time, all to prevent head injuries. Yet the only class action settlement the NCAA has reached to date involves medical monitoring that will not result in any monetary compensation to athletes who sustained personal injuries.
Although the Court has not yet resolved the merits of the lawsuit or determined whether the Class Representatives’ or the NCAA’s contentions are true, the Parties have agreed to settle the Litigation. The NCAA denies all allegations of wrongdoing and liability and believes that its conduct was lawful. The NCAA, however, is settling to avoid the substantial cost, inconvenience, and disruption of litigation. The Class Representatives and their attorneys believe that the Settlement is in the best interests of the Settlement Class because it provides an appropriate remedy for Settlement Class Members now while avoiding the substantial risk, expense, and delay of pursuing the case through trial and any appeals.
Former NCAA Players May Qualify
Former college football players allege their universities, the NCAA as well as athletic conferences of disregarding the dangers of concussion even though scientific research concerning the dangers of traumatic brain injury had been available for years. These former players also allege that the NCAA didn’t warn players of the risks of concussion or implement procedures to protect them from the long-term dangers that are associated with concussion.
Contact Jones Brown PLLC
Filing an NCAA concussion settlement claim is a complex process in which one wrong move can eliminate your right to receive financial compensation from the NCAA now and in the future, even if you later develop the symptoms and complications of concussion and traumatic brain injury. There are several steps that will be critical to your case including your ability to receive independent testing by a qualified doctor who does not work for the NCAA. Speak to us today to learn if you eligible to file an NCAA concussion settlement claim. We have spent decades fighting for the injured, and we stand ready to fight for you.
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